Carroll college to retain classes at Mount Airy

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Carroll Community College will continue offering courses in Mount Airy, even though Frederick Community College has decided to pull out of a partnership that created a joint satellite campus last year.

This fall will be the last semester in which Frederick participates in the joint program in the college-credit courses. It already has pulled out of participation in the noncredit courses.

The partnership had seemed a natural, because Mount Airy straddles the two counties, and the drive to the main campus of either college is about 30 minutes from the town, said Karen Merkle, vice president for continuing education at Carroll Community College.

"We don't know why, but for some reason the Carroll residents have taken greater advantage of it than the Frederick residents," Ms. Merkle said.

She said Carroll will continue offering courses there, but will reassess demand for the spring semester.

"I don't think in any way this is a negative thing that Frederick made this decision," Ms. Merkle said. "I think they had to make some choices. They certainly have not closed the door to any future partnerships."

Frederick Community College officials could not be reached for comment.

Ms. Merkle said the approximately 15 students who signed up for college-credit courses were split about 50-50 between the two counties. But the percentage of Carroll residents in the noncredit courses, such as those for personal and professional development, was much higher. It had traditionally been 60 percent, and over the last year climbed to 85 percent Carroll students.

"We have no real explanation for that," she said.

The two community colleges arranged last fall to offer courses at the Mount Airy Senior Center that would count toward earning a degree.

Courses offered at Mount Airy included speech, economics and sociology.

It was a step up from a partnership that began five years earlier, when the two colleges began offering noncredit evening courses, such as effective business writing, child care, real estate appraisal and the popular horse stable management, at Mount Airy Middle School. The stable management course is offered only at the Mount Airy site -- interest in the class was not high enough to have it at the main campus in Westminster.

The colleges shared the cost of staff, administration and marketing.

"We had initiated the partnership six years ago with Frederick, and we've always held the courses in Carroll County," Ms. Merkle said.

Residents of Carroll registered through Carroll Community College, and residents of Frederick registered through their county's school. This way, students never had to pay out-of-county rates.

"The whole concept from the beginning was to provide the convenience as well as just paying the in-county rates. It worked out real well. It's always been a wonderful partnership," Ms. Merkle said.

She said that to make up for Frederick's withdrawal, Carroll Community College will consolidate the credit and noncredit courses at one place, the senior center.

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